Flatiron Building

The Flatiron Building, which when constructed was called the Fuller Building, was one of the tallest buildings in New York City upon its completion in 1902 and is considered one of the first skyscrapers. The building, at 175 Fifth Avenue in the borough of Manhattan, sits on a triangular island block at 23rd Street, Fifth Avenue, and Broadway, anchoring the south (downtown) end of Madison Square.

The neighborhood around the building is called the Flatiron District after its signature building.


The Flatiron Building was designed by Chicago's Daniel Burnham in the Beaux-Arts style. Like a classical Greek column, its limestone and glazed terra-cotta façade is separated into three parts horizontally. Since it was one of the first buildings to use a steel skeleton, the building could be constructed to 285 feet (87 m), which would have been very difficult with other construction methods of that time.

The initial design by Daniel Burnham shows a similar design to the one constructed, but with a far more elaborate crown with numerous setbacks near the pinnacle. A clock face can also be seen. However, this was later removed from the design.

At the rounded tip, the triangular tower is only 6.5 feet (2 m) wide. The 22-story building, with a height of 285 ft (87 m), is often considered the oldest surviving skyscraper in Manhattan, though in fact the Park Row Building (1899) is both older and taller.

New York's Flatiron Building is not the first building of its type. It is the third building in the flatiron shape, with the first being the Gooderham Building of Toronto, built in 1892, and the second in Atlanta in 1897. Both of the earlier buildings are smaller than their New York counterpart.


I found myself agape, admiring a skyscraper — the prow of the Flatiron Building, to be particular, ploughing up through the traffic of Broadway and Fifth Avenue in the late-afternoon light. – H.G. Wells (1906)

The building, which took its name from the shape forced on it by the triangular lot it was built on – the Flatiron block, so called because it was shaped like a clothes iron – was officially named the Fuller Building after George A. Fuller, founder of the company that financed its construction two years after his death. Locals took an immediate interest in the building, placing bets on how far the debris would spread when the wind knocked it down. The building is also said to have helped coin the phrase "23 skidoo", from what cops would shout at men who tried to get glimpses of women's dresses being blown up by the winds swirling around the building due to the complex geography of the area.

The Flatiron Building today

Today, the Flatiron Building is frequently seen on television commercials and documentaries as an easily recognizable symbol of the city. It is shown in the opening credits of The Late Show With David Letterman, and was used as the Daily Bugle building in the Spider-Man films. It is a popular spot for tourist photographs and a National Historic Landmark since 1989, but it is also a functioning office building which is currently in the process of being taken over as the headquarters of publishing companies held by Verlagsgruppe Georg von Holtzbrinck of Stuttgart, Germany under the umbrella name of Macmillan, including St. Martin's Press, Tor/Forge, Picador and Henry Holt and Company. Macmillan is renovating some floors, and their website comments that:
The Flatiron’s interior is known for having its strangely-shaped offices with walls that cut through at an angle on their way to the skyscraper’s famous point. These “point” offices are the most coveted and feature amazing northern views that look directly upon another famous Manhattan landmark, the Empire State Building.

During a 2005 restoration of the Flatiron Building an illegal 15 story vertical advertising banner covered the facade of the building. The advertisement elicited protests from many New York City residents, prompting the New York City Department of Buildings to step in and force the building's owners to remove the advertisement.

The Flatiron Building was featured on the non-fiction television program Big, Bigger, Biggest, shown in the UK and on the Science Channel in the United States.


Flatiron Building

See also




  • Skyscrapers, Antonino Terranova, White Star Publishers, 2003 (ISBN-8880952307)

External links

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